I’m going to veer slightly off subject for today’s blog
post. I’m not writing about branding strategy or tourism or even about life at
a creative firm. Today I want to tell you about an amazing organization that is
making a difference in people’s lives in the Roanoke area – Goodwill Industries
of the Valleys
. From its impressive headquarters (aptly referred to as the Jobs
Campus) in Roanoke, VA, it serves people in 31 counties and 14 cities in
central and southwest Virginia.

Most people know Goodwill because of their retail stores
where you can always find a great bargain on gently used stuff or donate
clothing and other merchandise for a nice little tax deduction. But if that’s
all you know about Goodwill, well, you have a lot to learn. In a nutshell,
Goodwill is all about jobs. They provide training to people who need skills to
land a job. They provide career counseling for people who suddenly find themselves
unemployed or facing other challenges. They also provide jobs, not only through
their many retail stores but also through other entrepreneurial pursuits. A
job, Goodwill believes, is a long-term solution to a multitude of problems –
independence, self-esteem, and breaking the cycle of dependency.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of taking a guided tour
of the shiny new Jobs Campus in Roanoke. It’s where a lot of the training and
career counseling take place. It’s also where Goodwill provides jobs for a lot
of people. They contract with businesses that wish to outsource functions like
shipping and fulfillment, light manufacturing, and some “assembly
line” types of projects. Some of these jobs are done exceedingly well by
people with physical or emotional challenges. As I toured the Jobs Campus I was
inspired by how much these workers cared about doing their job to the very best
of their abilities. I was also touched by how many people stopped to say
“hello” to me and my tour guide. We were greeted like friends with a
smile and a handshake. I realized that it’s truly a happy workplace because
everyone in the building from a corporate VP to a disadvantaged youth is
treated with respect. For some people a job means more than a paycheck. It
gives people pride and dignity. More than anything else, Goodwill is in the
business of helping people find dignity.


6 Walnut Avenue • Vinton, Virginia 24179

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